Reading Why Writing Matters by Nicholas Delbanco

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About this book

In this new contribution to Yale University Press’s Why X Matters series, a distinguished writer and scholar tackles central questions of the discipline of writing. Drawing on his own experience with mentors such as John Updike, John Gardner, and James Baldwin, and in turn having taught such rising stars as Jesmyn Ward, Delbanco looks in particular at questions of influence and the contradictory, simultaneous impulses toward imitation and originality. Part memoir, part literary history, and part analysis, this unique text will resonate with students, writers, writing teachers, and bibliophiles.

My take on it:

I truly want to hate this book, not because it is not insightful but because as as Writer and Reader, I’ve finally read a book that the author focuses not only on the craft of writing but shares personal insights of how he was inspired and mentored by other writers.

Nine chapters and each one builds upon most the questions and clarifications that writers seek- I’m all the way in Kenya and could relate to this book, that’s how much of an impact it had on me.

In Chapter 2, on Imitation he remarks:

“Try to have a conversation using no word you’ve used before.”

I started reading it as a potential reviewer then took a step back and went back to the beginning to read it as a Writer and can I say that chapter 2 on Imitation was such a gem! Thanks Netgalley for the eARC. I see this is a must read and it could be well added to any writing program- more so because of the author’s insights on the focus of workshops.

Verdict: heartheartheartheartheart


About the Author

Nicholas Delbanco is the Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. The author of some thirty books of fiction and nonfiction, he lives in New York City and Cape Cod.